At a recent panel discussion on local Mandarin TV I made the point (once again) that language is key to work place success for immigrants.Lawrence Wang, immigrant lawyer felt that this was an unrealistic expectation. He felt that the mainstream employers use the requirements that immigrants speak good English and be able to interact effectively with locals as a means of putting down the immigrants. According to him it takes 40 years to learn to speak English well. My experience is that those who do not apply themselves very early to getting their English up to speed, soon lose interest and never really try. I also feel that anyone who lives in an English speaking city like Vancouver and attends a language class with 15 other learners will probably never learn to speak properly. On the other hand a truly motivated person can acquire all the fluency needed in one year of hard work. Only those who independently seek out the language through TV, books, newspapers and local contacts as well as committed self-study, will ever progress. In other words the schools are a counter-productive substitute for the autonomous learning process that is the only road to effective fluency. Any comments?